In a family disagreement over the ownership of a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, Madam Tan Teck Soon, 76, has resorted to suing her two granddaughters for trying to sell the flat she has been living in for over two decades .
According to the court affidavit, Mdm Tan states that she has paid the Housing Board S$277 each month in mortgage instalments over 26 years to service the housing loan for the 10th-storey 3-room flat in Bedok South. She also paid S$20,000 for the downpayment and renovations. Overall, she says that she has paid over S$117,000, including upgrading costs and conservancy charges.
However, in March earlier this year, she found out that her granddaughters, 26-year-old Michelle Ng Li Xuan and 25-year-old Isabella Ng Su Xi were planning to sell off the flat and had begun looking for buyers, a move which would force her to move out.
In order to prevent this, she has sued the two granddaughters.
Although Madam Tan maintains that she paid for the flat, her two granddaughters are the flat's registered owners. They had inherited the flat when their father passed away after a heart attack in 2009.
The flat was originally bought in 1990 under the name of the sisters' father, and Madam Tan's son, Mr Ng King Nguang.
In 1992, Madam Tan was registered as co-owner of the flat after a previous flat she co-owned with her eldest son was sold.
However, seven years later in 1999, Madam Tan transferred her ownership to her son to help him. This allowed him to obtain a HDB loan to pay off about S$100,000 in debts.
Madam Tan claims that she did not receive any money from the sale of her share of the flat, and she even lent Mr Ng S$61,000 to pay back his creditors.
Madam Tan has insisted that while the flat was bought under her son's name, it was her making all payments for it and there was an agreement between them that the flat belonged to her.
"The flat was registered under Ng’s sole name at that time, with the understanding between Ng and me that I was the sole owner," she said.
Nevertheless, Madam Tan's granddaughters have countered her statements, saying that they have the right to put the flat up for sale as it is their inheritance. Additionally, they have also disputed Madam Tan's claims that she single-handedly paid for the flat.
"What I understand is that my dad was the one doing the payments," said Ms Michelle Ng. She added that she and her sister let Madam Tan live in the flat as it was close to her workplace. Madam Tan works as a school canteen vendor.
Ms Ng also said that the payments that Madam Tan made for the flat after Mr Ng's death were because Madam Tan was living in the flat at the time. She also stated that she and her sister had offered Madam Tan a place to stay with Ms Isabella Ng at her upcoming Built To Order (BTO) flat in Choa Chu Kang.
Still Madam Tan brought the case to the High Court, where she is being represented by lawyer Chia Boon Teck, who is taking on the case pro bono.
Madam Tan argues that her granddaughters are only holding the flat in trust for her and that she found out that they were planning to sell it to profit.
On the other hand, the two sisters denied trying to sell the flat without Madam Tan's knowledge.
After the death of the owner of a HDB flat, the deceased’s interest in the flat will be distributed according to the will. If there is no will, it will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act.
Madam Tan still resides in HDB flat and the family's case is currently pending in the High Court.